The Decline of Manufacturing Has Not Turned America Into a Hellhole

According to the Washington Post, President Trump’s resident protectionist has drawn up a Trump-friendly slide to explain the consequences of a declining manufacturing sector. This comes from trade advisor Peter Navarro:

I can’t address all of these things, but off the top of my head I know that the crime rate has been dropping since 1991. As a result, the incarceration rate began dropping about 15 years later. It’s been dropping steadily for the past decade and has dropped by more than half for young black men since 2001. Child poverty is at an all-time low. The abortion rate has declined 50 percent since 1980. The homelessness rate has dropped steadily since HUD began keeping statistics a decade ago, and is now down 20 percent since 2007. Domestic violence, like other violent crime, has dropped dramatically over the past two decades. The mortality rate varies among different demographic groups, but has been dropping steadily since 1960. The teen birthrate is down, but overall fertility has been basically flat since 1970. The divorce rate has been dropping since 1980, and is now at a 40-year low. Hell, even the marriage rate has stabilized over the past decade.

In other words, Navarro is wrong about nearly everything. However, opioid use is up and single-parent households have increased. I guess two out of twelve isn’t bad.

Oh, and one other thing: manufacturing employment has been dropping in every rich country. This is hardly unique to the United States:

And it’s worth noting one other thing: In the entire OECD, manufacturing employment is down 2 percent since the end of the Great Recession, but in the United States it grew 6 percent during Obama’s presidency.

Bottom line: if a declining manufacturing base is bad for all the things Navarro says it’s bad for, how has the rest of the world escaped turning into the alleged hellhole that America has become? And if manufacturing employment in America has increased over the past decade, does this mean that things turned around under Obama? And anyway, America hasn’t become a hellhole. On most socioeconomic measures, things have gotten steadily better over the past few decades.

So none of this makes any sense. But I don’t suppose anyone in the White House actually cares. I expect Navarro’s slide to become a favorite over at Fox News.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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